Miriam Laeky, an Allen senior, used to not have an interest in politics, but after the presidential election in 2016, she knew she had to step up. So she decided to run for county commissioner.
Her parents are both immigrants who came to America to escape their government and civil war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Laeky said her disapproval of politics was influenced by her family.
“Their view of government and politics obviously is biased by their experience, but almost rightfully so, because government is associated with corruption and bigotry,” Laeky said.
The big turning point of the 2016 election is the reason for her political science major, as well. She said she wanted to find a way to get involved with civics and politics. She finds that civics can apply to all majors and interests. It’s about finding a passion and being an advocate for that issue.
Laeky said when former state representative Beto O’Rourke ran for senate, she was inspired by his campaign and how he brought the chance for a Democratic Senator in Texas.
“I think, especially for young people, it was really re-energizing to see a candidate that was so grassroots, and someone who was so outspoken about issues that really matter to us as well, and … his entire platform was mobilizing everyone in every county, and every neighborhood,” Laeky said.
Laeky even had the opportunity to work on O’Rourke’s senate campaign. She got to experience campaigning and gained an understanding of the process from behind the scenes. O’Rourke didn’t win, but she and other Baylor students registered 200 new Democratic voters.
She said it was great to “have those conversations with Baylor students and educate them” about “why you should register to vote and just the process behind that and the bigger issues happening in Texas.”
After this experience, she said she decided to take a semester off to be a legislative aide at the Texas Capitol. She worked for Representative Chris Turner, a Democrat in Tarrant County, and worked on issues such as immigration, gun rights, public safety, and criminal justice.
“The office where I worked at for Chris Turner was so diverse and so open, and so amazing, that it was so pivotal to me, because that’s what gave me the confidence, the ambition to go for things as far as civics is concerned,” Laeky said.
As a minority and first generation American, she didn’t see a lot of representation in leadership for people like her, she said.
“So when you don’t feel like you’re represented, speaking up is so much harder, and being in an environment where my opinion was valued and … my leadership was recognized really, really was so pivotal,” Laeky said.
Her favorite part of her job was listening to constituents, she added.
“People would come into the office, from all different parts of the state and the county, and just wanted people to hear them. I think that was the most important role I had was taking the time to listen to people, and tell them and show them that they’re heard and that there are people at the capitol who are there to advocate and work for them,” Laeky explained.
While at Baylor, Leaky has been involved with Mission Waco and Church Under the Bridge. During those experiences, she said her eyes were opened to new policy issues and how that affects the population in Waco.
“It’s really a selfless service for others in your community, and you really have to love your community in order to really be the best representative for people. I think that is what I still carry on today, is recognizing that there’s a bigger mission to this. It’s not me on the line, it’s the people that I want to represent,” Laeky said.
She said she came back from that experience and asked herself what she really wanted to do in this field.
She decided to run for county commissioner. Her campaign manager, Houston senior Jordan Davis, was another legislative aide she met while working in Austin. Davis said they became close from working long hours along side each other.
“I think us being so young, I think it’s an advantage because I think we’re able to see things in a different light than the other candidates, because they’ve been in the game for a long time, and some people get complacent or stick to a certain viewpoint after a while, but we’re young and we see things in all types of ways, and … we have a lot of energy,” Davis said.
Davis said she believes in Laeky’s message and considers her to be both driven and dedicated.
“We’re both women of color and her message is about diversity and inclusion and making sure that everyone is equally represented and just serving the people as a whole. I believe that she has a lot of really great ideas and just really wants to make sure that everyone is represented and everyone feels served,” Davis said.
Laeky said she knows that challenges will come her way with the campaign. Some people have already voiced their concern to her about her progressive ideas.
“They’re kind of cautious as to how much change they think Mclennan County can take in this election and having me as a candidate. I just respond that I think Mclennan County is ready for someone like me. I think that this is a chance to show people that Mclennan County is changing,” Laeky said.
The final day for voting in the Texas primary is on March 3, also known as Super Tuesday, a large day of voting where almost 1/3 of ballots are cast in the primary season. You have a chance (and responsibility) to let your voice be heard.
[Editor’s note: The Baylor Line endorses no candidate for political office.]